UK & World News
Children Of Alcoholics Face Ongoing Struggle
As Children of Alcoholics Week begins, campaigners are trying to raise awareness about the difficulties faced by youngsters who grow up in households with alcohol abuse issues.
The National Association for Children of Alcoholics receives more than 4,500 calls a year - many from under 18s who are struggling to cope.
Their youngest ever caller was a five-year-old girl whose alcohol-dependent mother had committed suicide in the bathroom.
Hilary Henriques, one of the founders of the charity, warns the recession has only made the situation worse with addicts drinking to cope with financial pressure and in turn struggling to fund their alcohol problem.
She said: "Alcoholics who drink don't choose to drink. Drink is how they get through the day."
Martin Williams is one of the alcoholic parents the charity has helped.
He describes how his relationship with alcohol became more important that his relationship with his two children.
"They stopped becoming the priority. The drink became the priority. And you try and juggle the two," he said.
Now though, he has been off the drink for more than three years and says his children are getting their dad back - an improved, sober version.
The most recent figures show around one-fifth of children are living with someone drinking dangerous amounts of alcohol.
According to research, the impact of having an alcoholic parent can be lifelong, with significantly increased chances of developing mental health problems and eating disorders.
Children of alcoholics are also more likely to get into trouble with police and develop a drink problem themselves.
Rosey, 20, has now moved out of home and is studying at university.
While her flatmates enjoy a typical student lifestyle, she does not touch alcohol and says does not think she ever will.
Rosey's father has been an alcoholic as long as she can remember.
She describes how she never invited school friends back home because she did not what them to meet her "slurring and rocking" dad.
She says she has given up thinking it's her job to try to help him.
The charity Children of Addicted People and Parents said such situations are common.
Its founding director Emma Spiegler describes the situation faced by many youngsters as "a hell hole with no escape".
But she insists with help and support children can come through it.
"Together we can help to break the silence, secrecy and stigma young people keep bottled up inside," she said.
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what do you think?
One way to help take the children off them
And put them where?
Foster care, it's not fair on the children. To me it is abuse for the children
So instead of alcoholic parents with children, we have children in care who still know their parents are alcoholics. So, to solve one problem, you suggest creating two? And where are the carers going to come from for these approximately 2 million children? Well thought out as usual.
But Diane children still love their parents under circumstances that you and i consider horrific. Taking them away as a matter of course just adds the anxiety of seperation onto these kids. In severe cases it's the only step that can/is taken but it's not ideal. There is also an acute shortage of foster carers and the "looked after" system can't function at present. Sad as it is, there is often no foster place available.
yes, surely it would be better to be in the loving social care system suffering sexual abuse instead...fool!
Really? Is that honestly going to help? The child will be past around in care and no stability. Every circumstance should be treated different and taking a child off somebody should be the last resort, support for the child can be offered in different ways. People who use alcohol can come from all walks of life so becareful before you judge and make sweeping statements.
I know it can happen to any family, what difference should that make.
Taking a child off someone should be a last resort. That is exactly why we have so many children being abused in the long term. Sod the child, the parents rights are paramount it seems
Children need to removed if they are in danger but it's often better for the children if they remain in the family home. where all their emotional attachments are, than be in the "looked after" system. There are any many organisations, both statutory and voluntary who can work with these troubled families and improve the lives of the children without removing them Of course, in extreme neglect/abuse cases this has to happen, but that occurs with or without an addiction issue in the family. Taking kids away can cause many problems and is never be undertaken lighty
I don't know how enforcable this could be but there are many parents out there who should never have been allowed to have children.
Exactly. Alcoholics drug addicts.The safety of the children should always come first not the feelings of the parents. Before it's to late. I jnow some will hate that statement
I agree 200% Diane. I have seem a young girl in my town in her 20s have 3 children Whist she's been taking drugs and all 3 we're taken off her at birth. More poor children left for us to look after while the mother carries on regardless and probably to have more offspring in the future
Emotional damage is far worse than physical damage and not illegal. Also, you make it sound like you think they are all chavs. People develop habits sometimes later in life after kids come along. Workers in the City of London having vino every night. There are functioning alcoholics that go to work and pay the bills but it still is a messed up environment for a child to live in.
Angela, I did say it can happen to any family. They should all be treated the same take the children of them till they can prove they are dry. No one forces the drink down them.
You say that no one forces an alcoholic to drink, but that's the nature of addiction, it takes you over till you can no longer think straight. My mother drank during my teenage years and it was truly horrible, but she was a lovely woman, just stopped being able to cope with life for a while. She recovered from it, thank God, was ashamed of those years for the rest of her life. It can happen to anyone and does!
It's not enforcable in any way. So many impossible hurdles to get round. And people recover from sddictions = your solution sounds pretty final.
If someone is a drug addict, they can be forced into a dry out clinic. If they are an alcoholic, they and their family are recommended to attend AA meetings. No support and intervention. It is als more common thaan you think due to the shame on the family and they all will create a web of lies to cover up and excuse it. Then communication and honesty lines blur and you end up with compulsive liars and control freaks who want to control everything else in their life because they cannot change their drinking problem. That is why they often end up either with eating disorders or worse, in a relationship with someone with an issue that they try control or fix.
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A tricky one. It's really hard when a child comes crying to tell you about what their alcoholic mum or dad did last night, what some other mean kid has said to them about them or how they have no clean clothes - or indeed any decent clothes or anything at all because home life with an alcoholic is so terrible. The kids are ashamed, the parents are ashamed - or too far gone to know anymore - and it becomes very difficult to watch when all you can do is refer it to someone else. Momentary kindness can't really help, can it, when all you want to do is take the kid home, get it a dentist and doctor and a decent meal. These kids are in a hell of a state.
It is terrible for them and they usually still love their mums and dads so much. Some kids have sad lives and the playing field is so uneven. What i find sad too is that if these neglected kids grow up to be offenders, maybe due in part to their miserable and unfair childhoods, then public sympathy is no longer with them and their rotten childhoods and poor start is put aside.
Too true. It's grim. The odd one - rarely - develops a sense of maturity as they have been the "adult", and seems far more grown up than their peers and does well. The majority seem destined for the scrapheap before they know it. No Brownie points to them for it being someone else's fault, as you say. Total disaster.
Notice how the girl "escaped" from her home life, to study at university, where all her friends go out partying and drinking lots of alcohol? She's practically in the same environment.